Tips on Family History Research
Need a crash course to find out the various elements of family history research? Or you want to know the essentials of constructing a family tree? How about familiarising yourself with the types of resources that are important to family history research? Try out the following bitesize tips on family history research brought to you by BBC.
- Before You Start Your Family Tree
- Getting Started on Your Family Tree
- Activity: Reading Family Tree
- Quiz: Family History
- Basic Research Tools
- How It Works: a Case Study
- Activity: Interpreting Certification
- Quiz: Journey of Life
BBC Family History Digital Gallery
The website contains short interviews collected during Digital Storytelling workshops conducted by the BBC. It features twenty people sharing briefly of what spurred them on to do family history research, and explain what their discoveries have meant to them. Let them inspire you to get started on a fascinating pastime.
Have you ever wondered where your ancestors originated, when and how they arrived at Singapore, who they married, the number of children they had, where they stayed and what did they do for a living? Or how you always wanted to trace your family tree to find out how far your ancestry stretches but have no idea where to begin? No doubt for the uninitiated beginner, starting to research one's ancestors can be a daunting, difficult and confusing task. But there is no reason to be discouraged from taking the very first step as the process of tracing a family tree is a rewarding experience that can be achieved by any individual with a little hard work, dedication and some basic knowledge on family history research.
Besides digging into the memories of family members, sometimes with diplomacy and tact, to extract basic information such as names, dates and places, the families also look through their treasure troves to uncover many physical items or artefacts. Since we could not simply take what we have been told at face value, we need to search through the collections of the National Library of Singapore and the National Archives for records to verify what they have heard or collected.
The aim of this resource guide is to highlight they key resources in the collections of the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore that are useful for family history research.
Births, deaths and marriages records
- School records
- Clubs and association records
Immigration and shipping records
- Land records and maps
- Secondary resources such as books, biographies and articles
How these records are used by the featured families in their family history research is largely dependent on their ethnic and religious background. For instance, to trace vital statistics such as birth, death and marriage dates of family members, a Eurasian family, which is of European descent and often of Christian denomination, may start off with church records. A Chinese family, on the other hand, would consult clans and temple records to locate such information.
In addition, as one of the primary goals of family history research is to trace their ancestors back to the country of origins, it is often that such research would span beyond the borders of Singapore. For example, since the Eurasians carry a pedigree of European and Asian, their origins can be traced to Europeans who migrated en masse to Singapore from Europe as well as the various European settlements in the region such as Malacca, Goa, Ceylon, Bencoolen, Macao and Penang in the 19th century. The sources from which European names are derived are almost endless. It could originate from nicknames, physical attributes, counties, trades, heraldic charges and almost every object known to mankind. So for a Eurasian to trace his or her family tree, the person needs to look at all these possibilities in order to recognise their ancestors.
To have a general idea on how to build your Eurasian family tree using the above resources, you can consult the following books in our library's collection.
Books and texts are often mainstays of resource guides as these provide introductory and comprehensive information on a particular topic. In the creation of this libguide however, effort was also made to recommend resources that are highly accessible, such as, ebooks, journal and newpaper articles, authoritative websites, among others. Please find below a brief write-up of the resource formats, as well as, how to access them.
- Print materials from both the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, as well as, NLB's Public Libraries. The print materials highlighted in this guide include books, articles from periodicals, ephemera and posters. Simply click on the links to view the holdings and the availability of the items. Books recommended in this guide can be reserved online and brought to the library branch of your choice for a small fee of $1.55 (just click on "Reserve this item").
- Journal Articles from the library's eResources service (http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg) is another good source of information for the topic. Proquest Central and JSTOR databases are accessible from home, whereas Factiva, Ebscohost Academic Premier are available from libraries. You have to be a Digital Library member before you can access the databases. If you are not a member yet, you may register at the eResources page free of charge. Use these keywords to assist your search: election, Singapore, polls, general election. Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) also help to limit the results.
- Newspaper articles are available from the Factiva database and the NewspaperSG database. Factiva is available via our eResources service and articles within can be accessed in the same manner as that for journal articles (described above). Newspapers from NewspaperSG can be accessed via http://newspapers.nl.sg. Articles from 1831 - 1989 can be accessed from home (direct links to the articles are provided) while articles from 1989 - 2006 can only be accessed onsite at the libraries.
- Audiovisual materials and microfilm from Lee Kong Chian Reference Library should be viewed at the premises. For AV materials, users may select their AV materials from the open shelves at Level 11 and proceed to the Audiovisual room located at the same floor of the National Library building. Microfilm users may select their microfilm either from the shelves or approach the counter staff for assistance on microfilm retrieval. Users need to fill up a form at the counter before proceeding to the microfilm room to view the microfilms. Viewing of AV materials and microfilm are free of charge.
- National Archives of Singapore materials are also highlighted in this guide. As the official custodian of public records, the National Archives plays the dual role of protecting the integrity of archival records in its custody through preservation and providing access to public archives subject to the relevant legislation. Materials from the National Archives can only be accessed via the Archives Reading Room, while search can be conducted using the Archives online catalogue at www.a2o.com.sg.
For more detailed information on accessing the library's print resources and electronic databases as well as those from the National Archives of Singapore, please go to the section on "Accessing the Resources" in this guide.
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